Why golf players experience low back pain
Low back pain is common for golf players because of the rotational movements and the forward bending of the spine. During a swing, sharp twists occur, the dynamic weight of the body increases, and its pressure on the support increases accordingly.
This, in turn, affects the body as follows:
- The support exerts a reciprocal pressure on the legs and lower back;
- The spinal vertebrae (small bones that form the spinal canal) and intervertebral discs that absorb pressure put on the spine get overloaded, and their shock-absorbing function decreases.
How can you, as a golfer, minimize the risks of low back pain? Let’s look through the proven ways to achieve this – from recommendations on performing golf swings to visiting an Austin golf chiro care professional.
Before starting a game, be sure to dedicate about 15 minutes to warm up. Here are some exercises to help you warm up.
Stretch your shoulder and torso
Take the golf club behind your neck and shoulders, wrap your arms around both ends of the golf club, and twist slightly from side to side. Repeat this exercise several times.
Stretch your hips
Pull one knee towards your chest. Sit down, and then pull the other knee towards your chest. Repeat this several times.
Pull your hamstrings
Bend over and try to touch your toes. Do not stretch more than you can, as you may get even more problems (if any). Stretch only if your chiropractor or physical therapist has approved this movement. Flexible hamstrings are essential for proper hip movement and to relieve pressure on the lumbar discs.
Swing a club gently
After stretching, do a gentle swing with the golf club. It will help warm up the required muscle groups and prepare them for the stress and twisting created by the swinging movements.
With stretched and gradually loaded muscles, you minimize the risks of having low back discomfort.
Revise your swing mechanics
To prevent low back pain, golfers should aim for a smooth swing. You need to rotate your shoulder, hip, chest gently, and lower spine simultaneously to achieve this. This way, all these body parts share the load.
Most golfers start the bottom swing from the hips. However, if you cannot twist your hips, the movement is not consistent with your arms. To avoid this, start your swing with slowly moving arms, and then engage your hips.
While golf swing naturally creates a twist, try to avoid constant twisting. Over-rotating when swinging a club often results in low back pain.
Instead, move your whole body – for example, if you want to see where the ball has gone.
In addition, a good practice is to lift the leading heel at the end of the backswing to provide more rotation in the pelvis than in the spine.
Reducing the spinal side bending during the downward swing can also help prevent low back discomfort.
Swing on both the right and the left side
When golfers only swing to the right or left side, it can lead to asymmetric torso rotation. So, if you only train on one side, the muscle tone of each of the two sides will be different. Austin golf chiro experts will confirm that such an asymmetry often leads to low back issues.
To prevent this, be sure to practice swings on both dominant and non-dominant sides.
Strengthen your core muscles
Strengthening your core helps prevent low back injuries, which are a major problem for many golfers. To enhance your core muscles, you can practice the following exercises: crunches, bridges, and plunks.
Here’s how your core works in golf:
- Abdominal muscles help maintain the balance and stability of the golf swing;
- Oblique muscles help stabilize body rotation;
- Upper back muscles provide support for the spine and are essential for proper downward swing and easy rotation of the body;
- The muscles of the lower body help perform the lower swing and maintain balance throughout the movement.
Use your legs when swinging
However, engaging the hips and glutes provides a massive advantage in swing strength. A common failure here is straightening the right leg, which, in turn, prevents it from proper loading. The legs become inactive, and this puts more load on the low back. To prevent this, be sure to use your legs effectively.
Move your head along with other body parts
If you try to keep your head still after swinging down, it can cause tension in your low back. To avoid this, allow your head to move in line with the rest of the body during the swing.
Maintain the correct stnce when playing golf
The best golf stance is where you can repeatedly hit the ball with little effort and the least potential for injury. With an unbalanced posture, you will waste a lot of energy to execute your shots. Moreover, you will be prone to injury from sudden movements.
What makes a balanced stance? The basis of such a stance is a straight back, feet shoulder-width apart, and knee flexion when hitting the ball. Your head should be pointing to the ball, and your arms should be perpendicular to the ground. Avoid slouching while playing golf to prevent back and lumbar discomfort.
When doing a stance, remember to bend your hips to distribute the load evenly. Also, make sure that you are not standing too far from the ball. Otherwise, you can lose balance during the swing, putting an unnecessary load on the body.
To check the balance of your stance, try to keep your feet stable for a few seconds without losing balance. If you fail to do this, then something is going wrong. Likewise, after taking a shot, you should be able to maintain stability for a few seconds effortlessly.
One more important point about taking a stance: do not tilt your spine forward towards the target. It will cause a reverse rotation. The left shoulder goes down during a takeaway, and the right one goes up, causing a load on the low back. Doing this over and over again can result in low back injuries.
Find a compromise between an open and a square clubface
All the golfers know how to position a clubface relative to the ball – an open clubface and a square clubface. With an open clubface, the face points to the right of the target line. A square clubface assumes that the face of the club is perpendicular to the target line. Golfers often make their choice in favor of a square clubface – this way, the club’s face doesn’t lean in any way and heads to the target directly.
To achieve a square clubface, you will most likely try not to allow the face to rotate open in the takeaway. And this is where issues may arise. Trying to square the face, you may become too reliant on your hands and arms. As a result, achieving the desired outcome becomes extremely difficult, but you also become prone to lower back pain.
What can you do about it? Let the clubface open slightly as you swing the club back. When the clubface is parallel to the ground (or a bit less than parallel), the swing will be more consistent, and you will feel less load as a player.
Find a safer way to carry your golf equipment
Golfers often carry equipment in a bag on one shoulder. The straps of the bag put pressure on one shoulder, which may cause pain in the low back. To prevent this, consider using a backpack-style golf bag.
Enhance your strength and mobility through exercises
What else can you do to prevent and relieve golf-related low back pain in Austin? There are exercises to help you increase strength and mobility in your body. Let’s look through them.
Diagonal Pull Pattern
Diagonal Pull Pattern exercise will help develop rotational strength in the core and hips and mobility in the shoulders. Strengthening your core will help balance the enormous rotational forces generated during a golf game.
Quadruped Thoracic Spine Rotation
Usually, the thoracic spine is quite motionless due to the connection of the ribs to the spine. To achieve maximum mobility when playing golf, you will need to take additional measures. Quadruped Thoracic Spine Rotation exercise will help increase the rotational mobility of the thoracic spine.
The good news is that Austin is rich for outdoor training spots. For example, Great Hills Neighborhood Park, Zilker Park, and Mueller Park are great places for trail-running. And if you are looking for an outdoor workout station, consider Austin’s Camp Mabry.
Stay fit and active between golf outings
To help prevent recurrent low back discomfort, be sure to include activities other than golf in your daily life. Take time for such aerobic activities as walking, running, and swimming. Dedicate about 30 minutes a day 2-3 times a week to aerobic exercises. As a result, you will retain the ability to play golf with pleasure and minimize the risks of discomfort during golf outings.
Stretching between golf sessions is also helpful. When stretching daily, you will maintain flexibility and minimize the risk of spinal injuries. You can practice stretching to prevent low back pain in Austin outdoor training spots.
Take breaks as needed
While golf is fun to play, over-golfing increases the likelihood of injury. If you tend to have back pain, keep this in mind.
Cumulative load is the key factor leading to low back pain in golfers. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the muscles used during the golf course get proper rest. To achieve this, you will have to limit your time playing to recover from this activity.
Consult with a Chiropractor
So, we have covered the ways to reduce the risk of low back pain while playing golf. What if your back still bothers you? Consider visiting a chiropractor! As with most ailments, an early examination can help you manage your back pain faster and reduce the risk of serious injury.
Chiropractic care is a kind of treatment designed to treat disorders in the spine, joints, and discs that form the basis of the human structure. Austin golf chiro care professionals will make the required adjustments and recommend strategies for injury prevention. Remember, chiro is a preventive treatment and is more than just reactive action for your health. So the sooner you start seeing your chiropractor, the more benefits you will reap from this treatment.
It is a completely natural, non-surgical, drug-free, and painless method of treatment.
As you can see, your physical well-being plays a vital role in golf. So, be sure to dedicate time to improving your strength and mobility.
The good news is that there are effective ways to prevent back pain while playing golf and enjoy the game. We’ve covered those tips in this article.
If your low back hurts today and you need urgent treatment, you can always visit a chiropractor. Actually, there is no need to wait for a golf-related injury to occur – seeing a chiropractor beforehand is an excellent way to prevent low back pain.
If you are an Austin golf chiro supporter, you can always find professional help here.